We decided to take our two youngest boys to Louisville, KY this year for a long weekend as their vacation over the summer. Our older two have scheduled their own adventures and my husband and I went on an amazing trip to Portugal earlier this summer. Earlier this year, the boys and I went to Williamsburg, VA for spring break, so this was a bonus trip. I selected Louisville because I am super interested in the National Parks right now, which I have only visited one starting last year. Also, I think they (13 and 11) are at the right ages for history and National Park style vacations. Also, Louisville is only 4 hours away by car. This is an easy drive but still feels different than home.
Thursday: Louisville Slugger Day
The adventure begins with leaving at about 9:30 am. If you know me, the old me would be through the roof with frustration trying to get my family on the road by 7am so we can maximize our time in the location. But, I have learned over the course of being a mommy, my tweens and teens don’t want to move at my pace and they don’t want to get up early on summer vacation. Since this vacation is for the boys, we started at a leisurely pace and planned only 1 activity per day. I joke that kids don’t really change. You are limited by their ability to take in new. When they are toddlers and babies they need naps. When they are tweens and teens they need electronics time to not be grumpy.
We arrive at stop #1 Cincinnati, OH around 11:30 am. We needed to get lunch and gas. I also did my research and found an awesome climbing gym (mosaic climbing) to break up the drive and get in a workout. We climbed until about 2:00 and then hit the road.
We arrived in Louisville to stay at the Galt Hotel (eh, i wouldn’t recommend) around 4:00. We settled in and headed over to the Louisville Slugger Museum (a must see). We learned that after 6pm the cost is 1/2 price, so we chose to wait until 6:00 to take the factory tour and see the museum. Jackson, my baseball player was in heaven. We bought him a personalized bat and went to dinner while it was engraved. We ate at Proof on Main. This is the second time Troy and I have been here and we have loved the food both times. They also have children’s menus making it simple for the kids.
After a little stroll along the Ohio river, we took the boys back to the hotel and let them have their veg time. We slipped downstairs for a drink at one of the many speakeasy’s for a nice relaxing “we” time before bed.
Friday: Mammoth Cave Day!
On the drive to Cincinnati, I did research to determine which tour we wanted to take at Mammoth Cave. I figured out how to purchase tour tickets online. It seems this is the way to go because there were no tours available when we arrived on Friday. I selected the Domes and Drips tour. There are a TON of tours, but this seemed about the attention span of the kids at 2 hours total. Plus, I personally wanted to see some stalactites and stalagmites. Troy and I woke up early and ran. Louisville has a great pedestrian bridge across the Ohio that is an old rail road bridge that has been paved. It’s perfect for a nice view of the city while running. The boys slowly woke up and were ready to go around 10am. Our tour time was for 12:45, so no stress. A couple things about Mammoth Caves:
1. It’s in central time zone – this is an hour later than Louisville
2. It’s really busy in the summer – about 100 people were on our tour
3. Unlike other national parks, it is very “danger free” … meaning there are hand rails and concrete walking paths within the cave
My impression of the whole experience is, I didn’t realize how crowded it would be. I was disappointed at the safety rails and man made walking path. I was expecting more of a hike. At least on the tour we took, it’s just like walking on a sidewalk and looking at the cave. The cave was impressive, but I was hoping for a bit more interaction, wilderness, need-hiking-boots, type experience. I’m going with, it was just alright and I plan to go back at a less busy time. However, my 13 year old, leaned over and said “Mom, this was totally worth it” during the tour. So, at least his expectations were exceeded.
On the way back from Mammoth Cave we stopped at the World’s Largest go-kart track to let the boys have some fun practice driving. They also chose to have a quick dinner and veg the rest of the night versus going out to dinner with us. Once we got back to the hotel, Troy and I let the boys reconnect to the outside world via electronics while we had a nice dinner. Although, I don’t recommend the place we chose, so no endorsement there.
Saturday: Headed home
After discussing with the boys if they had anything else they would like to see, we decided to head back to Ohio. It was a nice trip and everyone wanted to get organized for the upcoming week. But first! Climbing 🙂 We visit NuLu Climbing in Louisville as soon as they opened. Troy requested a late checkout so we could climb then shower before getting on the road. The gym was amazing. It is 100% bouldering and huge! Jackson, Troy, and I had a great time and felt ready to sit in a car for 4 hours.